Streamlining IT at Carestream Health

By William Atkinson

Carestream Health came into existence when Onex Corporation purchased the Health Imaging Division of Kodak in 2007. At the time, the newly created Carestream found itself with an IT function responsible for its 150 worldwide locations and various global network service contracts to support these locations. The network was staffed by 300 IT people in 44 locations. Since Carestream’s IT structure had been created to support the previously larger and more complex organization, it was not optimized for a company the size of Carestream. It became imperative for the Rochester, New York, company to transform its IT structure into to a lean, agile and cost-effective function.

To this end, Carestream CEO Kevin Hobert hired Bruce D. Leidal as CIO in August 2008, with the mandate to transform the IT function. Leidal had previous experience in IT with Texas Instruments, EDS, Federal-Mogul and General Motors, and as a management consultant with AT Kearney, in addition to being a member of the Society of Information Management and its Advanced Practices Council.

Over the next few years, Leidal focused on seven areas: IT strategy, relationship management, enterprise architecture, governance and the project management office, application development and support, global IT operations and infrastructure, and people management.

As Leidal sees it, the two most important and challenging areas were the first two: IT strategy and relationship management. “The biggest piece that was missing when I walked in was the lack of a portfolio management process,” he says. “There was no frame for having a conversation with executive leadership.”

Carestream has a number of different business units and functions, and although they share some common objectives, each unit has its own priorities. “There was no meaningful way to talk about common platforms, business priorities, and how IT could help the executive leadership with those priorities,” Leidal says. “We needed to find a way to take different projects and initiatives and represent them on a level playing field, so that everyone could understand the work that everyone else wanted done.”

IT funding is based on each project’s strategic value, return on investment and on overall budget guidelines, determined by the executive management team. As IT got closer to its funding and human resources limit, the management team was able to focus on the proposed projects that were just above or below the cutoff line. “This allowed us to take all the rest of the ‘noise’ out of the system,” says Leidal. “In other words, we didn’t need to spend time discussing the top one or two, which were going to be funded for sure, or the ones at the bottom that would never receive funding.”

To address the seven areas in general, Leidal focused on three overarching strategies. One involved creating an integrated vision, strategy, mission, roadmap, guiding principles, goals and execution for IT. These provided not only a holistic view of the transformation, but a step-by-step roadmap to get there. The second strategy was to implement strong and effective processes. As a result of implementing these processes, the company’s IT processes are now viewed in Carestream as important components of IT’s ability to deliver value. IT staff are viewed as process change experts, with the skills and capabilities to improve IT and help the business to innovate. The third strategy was hands-on leadership. Hobert gave Leidal the license to transform IT, providing him with authority and then stepping out of the way. Leidal then used his leadership skills to begin the transformation.

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